The Grief We Often Forget

Over the past few months, we have seen one public figure after another accused of sexual misconduct. I would list some of the names, but we have all seen them. I write this piece not to rehash the headlines but rather to point to a story easily overlooked: a story that the body of Christ needs to heed.

I have watched CBS This Morning for years and tuned in the morning after The Washington Post published allegations of sexual misconduct by Charlie Rose. Gayle King and Norah O'Donnell, who co-anchored the show with Rose since 2012, reported the story and then shared their thoughts. They applauded the brave women who spoke up. They acknowledged their shock. They called for change. What they said was good and true and necessary.

Yet there was one brief statement that has not received as much attention.

As Gayle King recounted her emotions since reading the Post article, she said, "This is not the man I know. "

At some point in all of our lives, someone has let us down. Someone has surprised us with words or behavior that do not fit the person we thought we knew. We've lived through the dissolutions of friendships we longed to keep. We find ourselves disappointed and confused.

12 For it is not an enemy who reproaches me;
Then I could bear it.
Nor is it one who hates me who has exalted himself against me;
Then I could hide from him.
13 But it was you, a man my equal,
My companion and my acquaintance.
14 We took sweet counsel together,
And walked to the house of God in the throng.
— Psalm 55:12-14 (New King James Version)

Psalm 55 is likely not one we know by heart. It is full of vengeance, anger and disbelief. It is the cry of someone grieving the loss of trust. It is a lament for the men and women we thought we knew.

I wish we read such psalms more often because they remind us that this kind of grief is normal. They remind us that grief is complex. The stories in the news today about misconduct jump to calls for justice and reckoning and resolution, as they should. The Church needs to name what is wrong and work to protect the most vulnerable, to prevent abuse of power.

The Church must also tend to the grief we often forget: those who have lost the trust of those they considered friends.

Such falls from grace should call us to look at our own needs for grace. We have all failed. We have all fallen. We have been both the psalmist who has been hurt and the companion who does the hurting. We all stand in need of a Savior. 

It is easy to look at the one-dimensional screens of our TVs, tablets, and phones, and pass judgment. It's easy to tweet our opinions. But do we stop to pray for the people involved? 

What would happen if, as soon as we read or watch a story of sexual misconduct, we hit pause and prayed for every person affected by the story? For each victim. For each family member of each victim. For the accused. For the family of the accused. For the friends of everyone involved. For the journalists trying to tell the stories accurately. 

I believe we would find ourselves entering into the complexity of grief that the Word so powerfully captures in the psalms. We would realize we all live in the same hurting world. We would recognize our desperate need for Hope we cannot create.

Let us enter the Advent season in pursuit of such Hope. In the places where we feel most let down by one another, we recall that Love came down to us. Lift up your heads, children of God, for redemption draws near.

all good things to each of you,

Pastor Darian